Mayor and School Board must work out differences for sake of the city
7/8/2021, 6 p.m.
Re “Community members call for School Board to work with city on new George Wythe,” Free Press June 24 edition:
Like many Richmond citizens, I have been watching, reading and discussing the debate over the building of a new George Wythe High School. My concern is that the two sides, the mayor and the School Board, cannot agree to sit down at the table and work this out.
I know Mayor Levar M. Stoney has called for this action and members of the School Board have called for discussions as well. However, it has not occurred. Is the issue over who controls the construction or is the issue that the mayor will control who is awarded contracts? If that is the case, set up a review board that consists of School Board members and the mayor’s staff.
Is the issue that the Request for Proposal, or RFP, has a timeline that needs to be met in order for the school to be built by 2024? Is it a case of money, the city debt ceiling? Whatever, work it out!
What I do not like is that divisive politics has seeped into the issue. I do not like seeing well-intentioned persons being vilified by opposing parties. What I do not like is that the two sides seem to be concerned with making sure their voices are heard and that the issue of working together, finding a compromise, is getting lost in the friction.
There appear to be other concerns such as the mayor controlling the bidding process, the cost and size of the school and whether or not the School Board is equipped to oversee construction by 2024. I have not heard anything that cannot be worked out by the sides having open, honest communication with one another.
Can the two sides come together for the sake of the students, for the sake of the public, for the sake of the city of Richmond? Can we cease fire and stop playing chess with our students’ futures? Can the adults in the room set an example for our youths and sit down and work this out?
Work together to get George Wythe built by 2024. This can be a transitional project as the Mayor’s Office works with the School Board knowing that RPS will be in control of school construction moving forward.
It is time to come to the table and work together for the sake of our city and for the sake of George Wythe High School.
The writer is president of the Richmond Crusade for Voters.